The teenager who drew Billie Eilish for Vogue

Anastasiya KovtunImage copyright
Anastasiya Kovtun

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Nastya was overwhelmed when Vogue told her Eilish had picked her drawings

A portrait of Billie Eilish drawn by an aspiring Russian teenage artist is featured on one of four covers of the March edition of digital Vogue.

Anastasia Kovtun, a 16-year old from a small town in the Urals, some 900 miles east of Moscow, was overwhelmed when the magazine contacted her to tell her that the singer herself picked out one of her drawings.

Anastasia, or Nastya, who had showcased her art on social media, has spent three years at a drawing school but felt out of place there and eventually stopped going. She says she wanted to stay true to herself and did not want to transform her artistic style under pressure from instructors.

The Russian teenager is one of two lucky fans whose art was personally selected by Grammy-award-winning singer. The 16-year-old and Kylie Young, 20, from Michigan, both thought it was a practical joke when Vogue called. The former asked for proof – and so the magazine sent her a detailed description of the forthcoming edition, translated into Russian.

Nastya spoke to BBC Russian correspondent Maria Kornienko from the town of Chaykovsky (named after the great Russian classical music composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky) and explained she is a fan of Eilish because of her quirky, colourful and unique style.

She says a phone call from Vogue was a surprise because she had not been on Instagram for long.

“I only opened an account in October last year. I know I am not a well-known or a recognised artist,” she said. But she also knew that Billie Eilish had spotted her work.

“She liked two of my drawings in November,” says Nastya. “I was very inspired by that, Billie was the first famous person to express her opinion about my work. She noticed me.”

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Billie Eilish won four Grammy awards, including best album

Still, that did not prepare Nastya for having her work on a Vogue cover.

She has had to go off social media for a few days after the cover was revealed as she could not cope with the avalanche of messages from people trying to reach her.

“Over the past few days my life has changed a lot. I have had some very interesting and tempting offers and I know it is an opportunity for me to realise myself as an artist. Still, I have to consider everything carefully. I don’t want to abandon school, for instance.

“I was given an extraordinary opportunity to share my art and I will use it. It won’t be easy but it will be worth it.”

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Nastya says she is grateful for the “extraordinary opportunity”

But what about the reaction on social media after she went back online?

“I try not to read comments where people say strange things,” she explained. “Such as that my drawing is only average.

“They think it is only luck that I was noticed for but I had worked so hard! There are also plenty of positive comments and I am grateful to everyone who supports me.”

Nastya says she is naturally drawn to musicians with a strong sense of style and also with courage to change. For that reason, like Billie herself, she admires Lana Del Rey and Miley Cyrus.

She also respects Russian artists who stick with their style and aren’t just trying to earn money and fame.

“Art is not about catching the hype or getting rich. It is not about popularity or reward.

“You have to do what you love and always have to speak from the heart.”

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